LST’s, or “Landing Ship, Tank” were used extensively during World War II to land trops, tanks, ammunition, and other material of war on shores around the world. They provided the lifeline between the fleet and the shore at the Normandy beaches during D-Day in June, 1944, they landed everything from troops to fuel and evacuated wounded at many Pacific islands such as Okinawa and Guadalcanal. In short they were the workhorse of the fleet during landing operations.
As with all warships space is at a premium in LST’s, and none of it is wasted. From the deck to the overhead, from the forepeak to the stern, from port to starboard, every cubic foot of space is devoted to something. Crew comfort is secondary to the job at hand. The passageways are narrow to save valuable space. The overheads are festooned with cable runs and piping. Compartments are small and functional and contain only what is necessary. The crew and the troops that the LST carried shared living spaces and slept in shifts. The crew “Hot Bunked”, so called because the “Rack” was still normally warm from the previous occupant when the next person climbed into it to sleep, ranged four high and head to toe on each side of the compartment. It was a harsh life for tough and dedicated young men.
I was fortunate to be able to visit one today. LST-325 visited Nashville and docked at Riverfront Park for a few days. 325 is owned by the LST Memorial and travels the inland rivers of the USA to give people like me a glimpse of what life was like on an LST during the war years. Take a look at the LST Memorial web site for extensive information and history about this remarkable ship and her crews.